A NATIONAL riding champion from Newquay, who refused to wear a helmet outside of competitions, died after falling off a horse, an inquest has heard.
Philip Scholfield, 55, of Summer Lodge Caravan Park, sustained an "unsurvivable" brain injury following the accident close to Bejowan Farm equestrian centre on June 5 last year.
The father of two had been helping out friend and stable owner Jean Banfield and was riding a gelding called Mr T when he inexplicably slid from his saddle.
Described as "fearless and tough", Mr Scholfield was National Point-to-Point Champion in 1988 and was widely regarded as one of the greatest horsemen of his era, as both a rider and a trainer.
In a statement, Mrs Banfield told Truro Coroner's Court on Monday: "Phil had ridden horses all his life. He was old school and would never wear protective clothing or a riding hat.
"We asked him to because it was a good example for my grandchildren (but he didn't).
"He only wore hats at competitions because he had to. On the day he died he was not wearing a hat or back protector."
Philip, the father of top jockey Nick Scholfield, had been helping Mrs Banfield muck out stables on the day he died. He had been complaining of a pain in the groin, and was seen holding himself up by the stable wall.
Mrs Banfield said: "He wouldn't get it checked because he said he hated doctors. He was fearless and very tough and never complained of any pain or weakness."
Riding Mr T up a track shortly afterwards Mrs Banfield saw him slide off the horse and fall to the ground.
She ran to grab Mr T, who had bolted in shock, before turning around to see Mr Scholfield fitting on the ground. "Phil just slumped and slid back down and off the right hand side of the horse," she said. "Phil never fell off. He was a very good, experienced rider."
He was transported by air ambulance to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, where he later died after family members agreed to turn off a life support machine.
The court heard there was no concrete evidence to suggest he had a medical episode before the accident.
Pathologist Juliane Stolte, who carried out the post-mortem examination, said she believed the brain injury occurred as a result of the fall, although it was possible a haemorrhage may have occurred beforehand.
Assistant coroner Barrie Van Den Berg recorded a verdict of accidental death. The cause of death was said to be a skull fracture and brain haemorrhage.